Why I’m voting for Obama and Democrats as a person of faith

The Jewish New Year falls on September 17, a joyous anticipation of good health and prosperity in the coming year. The season continues with Yom Kippur on the 26th, a day of fasting and reflection on what we could have done better in the preceding year and how we resolve to go forward.

This season overlaps with another period of reflection on the theme of outgoing and incoming: the end of President Obama’s first term and his re-election to a second.

Sitting it out, or “protest” voting, is not an acceptable option. Not when the GOP boasts of purging millions of voters from the rolls, shortening voting hours, and requiring picture IDs. Voting never before seemed like such a sacred act.

The GOP offers us two men of profound faith and conviction, Mitt Romney, a Mormon, and Paul Ryan, a Roman Catholic. Or so they profess. I really have to wonder what Bibles they’re reading, and what religious precepts they’re following. To my thinking, Republican/tea party policies directly contradict the great teachings of just about every world faith tradition. The Ryan budget alone is a shining example of “doing unto others what you would not have done unto you.”

Republicans paint for us a dark, every man for himself dystopia. They seek to privatize and monetize everything in the commonweal, like health care, education, and national defense. I’m on Social Security now, and they want to yank us back to the day when most of our seniors were living in poverty. Ryan-Romney will give us Medicare vouchers raising every senior’s medical bill $6,500 a year, and eliminate Medicaid completely. The Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect, but it’s a platform to build on. Personally, I support Medicare for All, and will continue struggling for that if Obama is re-elected. If not, even ACA will be repealed.

Republicans want to drag us back to the Gilded Age, a time of no government regulation, no unions to fight back against the robber barons, women paid substantially less, pervasive wage theft, no safety rules or minimum wages. They envision no consumer protection, no banking laws, no limit on financial institutions. Their budget promotes the ever-widening gap between the 1% and the rest of us. The floodgate of “Citizens United” money flowing into our elections has amplified the voice of every ultra-right-wing candidate in the country. If we do not come out in force to vote, billionaire donors to the GOP will succeed in buying our government.

Do these people of faith know Isaiah 58 that we read on Yom Kippur? “To loosen the bonds of injustice … To let the oppressed go free by smashing every yoke! To share your bread with the hungry, and to bring the outcast poor into your home. When you see the naked, that you clothe them, and not hide yourself from your own flesh.” What about remembering the stranger in your midst? Are Americans not overwhelmingly a nation of immigrants and their descendants?

What would Jesus have done with these people? He would have thrown the moneychangers out of the temple! The Conference of Catholic Bishops has pronounced the Ryan budget an immoral document. The “nuns on the bus” use the term sinful.

President Obama has ended the war in Iraq, and set a withdrawal date from Afghanistan. There exist serious abuses by our “security state” government, but we can address them more effectively in a second term. A President Romney, guided by advisers largely drawn from the George W. Bush administration, would only hurtle us into more interventionist adventures.

One hallmark of acceptance into society is the right to serve our country. President Obama engineered the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Romney wants to reinstate it. The Democrats include marriage equality in their platform. Another route to success is education, but Republicans want to block government from providing student loans. And jobs! A good job is supposed to be your path to the American dream – work hard, play fair, save a little, and you can live with dignity, and retire with security. Republicans have done zilch to help Obama create jobs, train workers in needed skills, or convert to eco-friendly technologies.

Republicans have made a religion of denying global warming. Eco-activists have shown that Obama can be moved by our protests. From the GOP we’ll get only more noxious emissions heating up the planet, causing extreme weather phenomena, creating irreversible health problems, and threatening all creation. What greater sinfulness than the pursuit of profit while killing the Earth and all the creatures thereof?

As someone who has worked for a great part of my life in the faith and interfaith communities, I say the GOP blueprint is profoundly inhuman. Immoral. Sinful.

I give modestly to several charitable groups that send out a yearly legislative scorecard showing where our senators and congressmembers stand. Democrats come in at 70%-100% favorable, and Republicans 0%-30% at best.

I am voting straight Democratic. I don’t love every candidate. In some races I truly wish we had better progressives. But when we wake up on November 7, we’ll enjoy far brighter possibilities if we find that we’ve elected more Democrats everywhere.

A sweet, healthy New Year to all!

Image: A verse from the Old Testament’s Isaiah 58. flattop341 CC 2.0


Eric A. Gordon
Eric A. Gordon

Eric A. Gordon, People’s World Cultural Editor, wrote a biography of radical American composer Marc Blitzstein and co-authored composer Earl Robinson’s autobiography. He has received numerous awards for his People's World writing from the International Labor Communications Association. He has translated all nine books of fiction by Manuel Tiago (pseudonym for Álvaro Cunhal) from Portuguese, available from International Publishers NY.